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Moses - a true predictive prophet
Moses proves veracity of Gospel
Moses was one of many predictive prophets of the Old Testament and his prophecies were not limited to foretelling that God would raise up unto Israel a Prophet like unto himself. In Deuteronomy 28:15-68 and 30:1-10 (and also Leviticus 26:14-45), he foretold in outline the history of his nation as the result of its idolatry in the judgments of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. These prophecies reveal that, after the idolatry that brought the judgment of the Babylonian captivity, judgment would follow the nation's rejection of her Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70. The futile attempts by Islam to deny the presence of Israel in Jerusalem from ancient times can never get past the massive archeological evidence. He also predicted the world dispersion which followed the Roman assault. Deuteronomy 30:1-10 foretold the repentance of the nation of that sin at the close of this present age and the restoration of the covenant relationship with God (the New Covenant) which Jeremiah dealt with more fully (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
The prophecy of Deuteronomy 28:36 was fulfilled to the letter when the ten tribes were removed to Assyria with their king, whom they had insisted on installing on a throne like the nations that surrounded them - despite God warning of this error - and these tribes became lost among the idolatrous nations of that empire:
'The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone.'
A hundred years later Judah and Benjamin, with the priests and Levites, were taken into exile in Babylon for seventy years. Many of them never returned. Moses foretold the nation would suffer further Divine judgments at the hands of the Romans which, as other Scriptures reveal, would be for the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah (Deuteronomy 28:49,50,52):
The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance ... and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst throughout all thy land.
It is well known that, having borne with much impatience the Roman yoke, the Jews at length rebelled. They were urged on by the Zealots who believed that to provoke a conflict with Rome would bring the Messiah to fulfil the prophecy of Zechariah 14. They fought bravely to try and regain their independence and, at the outset, gained some partial successes over the Roman army commanded by Crestius Gallus, ruler of Syria. However, as soon as the news reached Rome, Nero appointed a general of great skill and experience, Vespasian, to command all his troops in the East and ordered him to march with all speed into Judaea. After waging war with great activity and success for two years, Vespasian was called to occupy the imperial throne and his son, Titus, was appointed chief of the Roman army invading Palestine. After a siege of several months, during which the inhabitants endured appalling suffering, Titus captured Jerusalem and destroyed it in A.D. 70. He had been given orders to spare the Temple from destruction, but Christ had foretold it would be destroyed and 'not one stone left upon another' (Matthew 24:2). It was therefore 'accidentally' destroyed when a Roman soldier threw a burning faggot over the wall. Thus, one of the many prophecies made by Christ which prove He was the Prophet 'like unto Moses' was His prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 (Matthew 24:2; Luke 41:-44; 21:20-24).
Note that Christians living in Jerusalem had warning of this event because of Christ's prediction of the destruction (Luke 21:20,21) and thus fled to Pella and made good their escape when they saw the Roman armies approaching. Those who rejected the Messiah and His prophecy, e.g. the many Jews from other cities who fled into the city thinking it impregnable, perished. Moses' prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem foretold that it was not to be brought about by any nation adjacent to Palestine, as in the case of Assyria and Babylon, but by a nation 'afar off' for those days, and speaking a language having no affinity with the language of the Jews. Latin is completely dissimilar to Aramaic, Hebrew, and Semitic dialects. Also, the rapid movement of the conquering army is symbolized in this prophecy by the eagle, the very bird whose image was borne on the Roman standards: 'The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; whose tongue thou shalt not understand.' (Deuteronomy 28:49).
The prophecy also exactly describes the mode of warfare which characterized it - and the completeness of its success:
'And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land' (Deuteronomy 28:52).
In this siege warfare, the Jews put their trust in their 'high and fenced walls' - rather than in their God! The names of Jotapata, Japha, Tarichea, Gamala, Itabrium, Jerusalem, Herodian, Machaerus, Masada appear in the history of the campaigns, for these were the fortified cities captured from the Jews. The Romans fought their way through the land step by step, reducing one stronghold after another after Jerusalem had fallen, until the final well-documented stand made at Machaerus and Masala!
The statement 'thy high and fenced walls shall come down' foretold the battering ram method the Romans would employ in their attack. The historian Josephus describes the effects of its use at Jotapata, where he commanded the Jewish forces: 'Now at the very first stroke of this engine the wall was shaken, and a terrible clamour was raised by the people within the city, as if it were already taken.' Vespasian's orders were for the city to be completely destroyed and all fortifications burned down.
We have only to follow the progress of the Roman armies as they marched through Galilee, to see with what unerring precision the prophet spoke when he included in the predicted destruction not only Jerusalem itself, but all the fortified places in the land. The following quotation is from Mayer's History of the Jews:
'Vespasian, having assembled all his forces at Antioch, the capital of Syria, where he was also joined by Agrippa, king of Chalcis, marched with his army, consisting of sixty thousand men completely armed and disciplined, into Galilee, and took possession of the city of Ptolemais. Soon after Gadara was taken on the first assault, and all the adult males were put to the sword, and fire set to adjacent towns and villages. The conquerors next advanced against Jotapata, and closely besieged the city. Josephus, who commanded at Tiberias, being apprised of the enemy's design, secretly entered the city, supplied with ample stores, and defended it with heroic valour for forty-seven days. But at length the Romans surprised and took the place, and all the inhabitants were either slain or taken prisoners. While Vespasian was engaged in the seige of Jotapata, the inhabitants of Japha, a neighbouring city, rebelled. The general despatched Trajan, commanding the tenth legion, against them, who assaulted it, and after being desperately opposed, succeeded in reducing it. All the men, amounting to fifteen thousand, were put to the sword, and the women and children made prisoners. A short time after the capture of Japha, the Samaritans assembled on Mt. Gerrim in a riotous manner, and Cerealis, a Roman general, was sent against them, who slew eleven thousand six hundred of them. Joppa, a maritime town, was next attacked and, after great destruction of the inhabitants, reduced. After Vespasian had refreshed his troops twenty days at Caesarea Philippi, he marched against Tiberias, which yielded to him on his approach, and the inhabitants were spared at the intercession of Agrippa. Tarichai, on the Sea of Galilee, was next attacked, and after a desperate resistence Titus succeeded in reducing the city: here about seven thousand were put to the sword, and upwards of thirty thousand sold as slaves. Vespasian next proceeded to invest Gamala, a fortress on a rocky isthmus. On the first attempt to take the town by assault, the Romans were driven back with prodigious slaughter. Their second attack, however, was successful, and four thousand of the inhabitants slain by the infuriated assailants, while large numbers fell victims to their own impatience and ungovernable rage. The Romans also obtained another decisive victory over the Jews on Mt. Itabys, a strong fort where great numbers had taken refuge. After the reduction of the fort, Vespasian sent his son Titus to besiege Gischala, the only city in Galilee which still held out against the Romans, but which soon surrendered at discretion.'
So the account details high fenced walls brought down, one after another, until there was not one city left standing against the victorious invader. But the place in which the Jews put their greatest confidence was Jerusalem, situated as it was with the strongest natural fortification and additional human constructions that made it stronger still. We know of the strength of Jerusalem because it was not until after the time of King Saul that David was able to take possession of it. Scripture informs us that, when David and his men went to attack the city, the inhabitants said to David:
'Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither' (2 Sam. 5:6).
In other words, it was considered to be so impregnable that the blind and the lame could defend it! Jerusalem was built on two mountains, some 2,500 feet above sea level and surrounded by lofty walls on every side except where steep valleys made it inaccessible. Each of the three walls was also defended by numerous high towers, and on the east side was the strong Castle of Antonia, and the celebrated Temple which was considered to be an equal fortification. But, despite its prodigious strength, its high fenced walls came within the scope of the threatened judgment foretold in Deuteronomy 28:52 and, to fulfil this prophecy, they must be breached, however impossible such a catastrophe might have appeared to the Jews who took refuge there from the Roman invasion. Jesus prophesied:
'The days shall come upon thee that thine enemies shall cast a rampart about thee, and keep thee in on every side. They shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave thee one stone upon another which shall not be thrown down' (Luke 19:43,44).
History shows how fully and how literally the prophecy was fulfilled. Because Crestius Gallus had encountered problems and the destruction of some battering rams, Titus judged it expedient to summon the principal leaders of the army to a council of war. At this meeting three plans were discussed: first, to storm the city immediately; second, to repair the battering rams; third, to blockade the city and starve it into surrender. The third plan was decided upon, and the whole army set to work to build a rampart, as Christ foretold they would ('thine enemies shall cast a rampart about thee, and keep thee in on every side' - 'rampart' translates the Greek xaraka). In an astonishing demonstration of military discipline, each legion and rank vied in their zeal to complete the work so that the whole rampart was only a furlong short of five miles in length, surrounded by thirteen garrison towers, and was completed within three days. Shortly after the completion of the rampart, Jerusalem was levelled to the ground!
Deuteronomy 28:53-57 foretold that the inhabitants of the besieged city would be reduced to such dire straits through famine that they would resort to cannibalism:
'Thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the Lord thy God hash given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee: So that the man that is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children which he shall leave: So that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat.... The tender and delicate woman among you, which would not adventure to set the sole of her foot upon the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward... the children which she shall bear: for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness, wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates.'
How truly this appalling picture was fulfilled is related by Josephus in his account of the Jewish war. When the siege commenced the city was more than usually full of people. Many had fled into it from the surrounding countryside as a place of protection, as already mentioned, and the Jews from all quarters had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Yet with this vast increase in the population the supply of provisions was such that it might have sufficed for a long time had not contending factions in the madness of their mutual jealousies and, incredibly, resulting in them burning each others stores! The result of this monstrous conduct - brought on by the prophesied judgement of God - was that an alarming food shortage caused an accelerated famine that almost defies description so that the historian wrote (see Deuteronomy 28:56):
'A more shocking spectacle never presented itself to human view … Wives tore meat from the mouths of their husbands; children did the same to their parents, and the parents did the same to them. The bare mention of food was sufficient to create family discord, and dissolve friendships cemented by the dearest ties. The people gnawed their shoes and girdles, and the soldiers the leather on their shields … I have a personal instance to cite that cannot be equalled in history, either among the Greeks or the barbarians …'
Josephus went on to describe the horrors of cannibalism predicted so long before by Moses. It was His foreknowledge of such unprecedented misery that led the Lord Jesus Christ to say to the great company of women who bewailed and lamented His being led forth to be crucified:
Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the breasts which never gave suck (Luke 23:28,29)
Anyone who is a mother or father can never imagine a greater horror than having to kill and eat their own beloved children in order to survive. Most of us would vow that we would rather die than resort to such evil. Yet this is the evil that they resorted to in their despair.
Josephus places the casualties at over 1,350,000, and says 97,000 were taken captive from Jerusalem alone and sold into slavery. So many were crucified, more than 77,000, that there was a shortage of wood to make crosses! Further (Deuteronomy 28:68), the prophecy foretold that they would be returned to Egypt in ships: 'And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships.'
Of those spared from death in Jerusalem all who were over seventeen years of age were sent to labour in the Egyptian mines and Josephus records that 11,000 Jewish captives perished in the vile conditions described by the Greek historian Diodorus:
The vast numbers employed in these mines are bound with fetters and compelled to work day and night without intermission (no rest days), and without the least hope of escape. No attention is paid to their persons; they have not even a piece of rag to cover themselves, and so wretched is their condition that everyone who witnesses it deplores the excessive misery they endure. No rest, no intermission from toil, are given either to the sick or the maimed; neither weakness nor age, nor women's infirmities, are regarded at all: all are driven to work with the lash, till at last, overcome with the intolerable weight of their afflictions, they die in the midst of their toil.
The prophecy also foretold that very low prices would be paid for the captives when sold into slavery, and that so many would be offered for sale that some would be left unsold:
'No man shall buy you' (Deuteronomy 28:68).
Leviticus 26:1-46 and Deuteronomy 28:1-68 declare that all national disasters would come upon the nation of Israel only as Divine chastisement for national sins, as with the judgments of the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities - which the Jews acknowledge were such. So it is impossible to explain the immeasurably more terrible judgment of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70, and the world dispersion and unparalleled suffering of the nation which have occurred since in the lands to which they were dispersed - the most obvious being the murder of six million Jews under Hitler - except as Divine judgment for the nation's greatest sin.
We know that this national sin has continued ever since because the judgment has continued ever since - much of it wrought through the modern-day Philistines in Palestine with the aid of their Islamic neighbours. If you ask Jews what sin, other than the prophesy of the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah, could have brought this age-long ongoing judgment on their nation they either deny that Jesus Christ was their Messiah, as their rabbis have told them, or they reply: 'We do not know.' This is an absolutely inexcusable answer in the light of other Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 53; Micah 5:1-3; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 12:10; 13:7), as well as the typical prophecies of the Mosaic sacrifices, all of which add their irrefutable testimony to the verbal prophecies as justifying Christ claims to be the Saviour of the world by His death and resurrection (John 6:51). To say inexcusable is with the knowledge that many Jews testify that their rabbis tell them to read only the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, and not the Psalms or any other book. And definitely not Isaiah 53! How do rabbis justify this 'advice'? Well, obviously, only they have the knowledge to correctly interpret what these other books really teach and they certainly cannot point to Jesus Christ as the Messiah, can they?! Of course, anyone else refusing to read the evidence for the Deity and Messianic Identity of the Lord Jesus Christ is also without excuse!
The fact that none of the four Evangelists appealed to this prophecy of Moses foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70 as God's judgment on the nation, for the rejection and crucifixion of their Messiah in Jesus of Nazareth, when they appealed to the fulfilment of many other First Advent Messianic prophecies in His life, death and resurrection as proving the truth of their witness to Christ, can only be explained by their all having been written before that most awful national judgment. The fact that Christians only appealed to this evidence after it had occurred as further proof of the truth of all Christ's claims, is further evidence of the early date of all the Gospels, i.e. they must have been written before A.D. 70!
In Genesis 49:10 Moses also foretold the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, for only then did sceptre and lawgiver depart from Judah:
'The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.'
Hosea 3:4,5; 5:16-6:3; Isaiah 26:8,9,16; 25:9; Leviticus 26:40-45; Deuteronomy 30:1-10, foretold the repentance which will bring the return of Christ to fulfil the prophecies of Zechariah 12:10-13:2; 14:1-15.
The great importance of establishing the early date of the Four Gospels is that they were all written at a time when very many of the Jewish opponents of Christ were still living. They would most certainly have contradicted any statements in them concerning themselves which were false - but never did so. The Gospels state that the Jewish religious leaders on several occasions accused Christ of blasphemy for claiming Deity (Mark 2:7; Matthew 26:64-66; John 8:56-58; 5:1,18; 10:30,31). They accused Him of being mad for claiming to be the Saviour of sinners (John 10:7-20); of deceiving the people by means of His miracles wrought through Beelzebub, i.e. Satan! (Matthew 12:24; John 7:12; 11:47); and by claiming He would rise from the dead the third day (Matthew 27:62-64). By not contradicting these statements these first unbelievers accepted them as actual statements made by Jesus, a fact which completely refutes the theory that Christ was only a good man, and great religious teacher, but never made any claims to be incarnate Deity, or to be the Saviour of the world by His Calvary sacrifice and resurrection.
Thus we see the astonishing truth of the Christian religion, of the Gospel - it was even inadvertently established by the testimony of unbelievers. The first unbelievers - alone of all unbelievers - are witnesses to Christ's public words and works according to the Gospel records which they never contradicted. They thereby attest the actuality of all the Divine and supernatural claims which Muslims and all other unbelievers deny that He made!
The first disciples of Christ were originally accused of making claims of Deity and Saviour-hood for Christ which He had supposedly never made for Himself. Yet many who pay the highest tribute to Christ as Man contradict themselves when, in the next breath, they try and claim that such a man as they all pronounce Christ to have been - in the light of His moral influence on the world - could not possibly have made such outrageous and false claims!
So many modern unbelievers condemn the first unbelievers for rejecting and crucifying the one they proclaim to be the greatest moral teacher and example who ever lived, while the first unbelievers condemn the modern unbelievers for denying that Christ Himself made all the claims on which they based their charges against Him of blasphemy, madness, and deception, recorded in the Gospels for which they demanded His crucifixion, and a guard for His tomb.
Nowhere else in the history of the world has there ever been a case where two groups of people have united to oppose any person or cause on contradictory grounds which together establish the truth of what they both sought to disprove.
There is much more evidence that can be brought forward to support the historical accuracy of the Gospel accounts and, incredibly, no Muslim can ask for stronger evidence that Jesus Personally made all the claims to Deity and Saviour-hood, which the Gospels record as His Words, than the testimony of those who crucified Him for making them!
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